In a rampage lasting 10 awful minutes, a gunman targeted Republican politicians as they held an early-morning practice in a picturesque park

America has been made to endure this pain before when a mass shooting desecrates its most cherished spaces: a schoolroom in Newtown; a cinema in Aurora; a church in Charleston.

This time, with the dawn, a baseball park in Virginia became, in the words of Senator Rand Paul, a killing field.

What politicians who trade their suits and ties for baseball uniforms lack in fitness, they make up for in earnest enthusiasm. Such is the dedication of Steve Scalise, the number three House Republican, and his colleagues that they regularly start practice at 6.15 or 6.30am at the Eugene Simpson Stadium Park in Alexandria, across the Potomac river from Washington DC.

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